Has Obama Derangement Syndrome Arrived?
The day after President Barack Obama became our 44th president, I compiled a roundup of reaction to his inaugural address, beginning with Philip Klein's assessment at the American Spectator that it was "a rather flat and unfocused talk without any memorable lines." But I also noted the hyperbolic hosannas from Walter Shapiro of the New Republic, who asserted that Obama's speech was so splendid that it "reminded the nation that here was a man who wrote himself into his job."
That pushed my button. Back in May, an article recounting the sweetheart book deal Obama got as a 28-year-old Harvard Law student prompted me to create a humorous Facebook group, Authors Against Obama. Anyone who's ever suffered through the hellacious process of publishing a book must surely be irritated to learn that (a) Obama had been sought out by a literary agent on the basis of a New York Times article about his becoming the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review, (b) the agent got this beginner signed with Simon & Schuster, (c) Obama botched that deal, only to be signed to another contract with another major publisher for a reported $40,000 advance, and then (d) having been contracted to write a book about race relations, instead delivered a memoir.
A memoir! As I said at the time, no 28-year-old should be paid to write a memoir unless he led the league in RBIs and helped the Yankees win the World Series.
That joke bounced around the Internet for a few days last spring, even as some conservatives mused more seriously about how many other times Obama had been favored with similar good fortune. It wasn't exactly a conspiracy theory, but several in the blogosphere wondered how one person could get so many amazingly good breaks. One reader called to my attention a January 2008 American Thinker article in which Jack Cashill examined what he interpreted as evidence that Obama's memoir Dreams From My Father had been ghost-written by -- wait for it -- Bill Ayers.
Well, you can take up that argument with Jack Cashill, but if a New Republic writer is going to cite Obama's inaugural address as evidence of our new president's incomparable authorial gifts, I'm certainly not going to neglect to mention that at least one critic suspects the auteur benefited from a generous portion of Editorial Helper.
Mention something like that, however, and you'll quickly find yourself accused of Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS), a dementia now allegedly rampant among conservatives, just as Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) went viral among liberals the past eight years.